Sometime after ReVival 20
Las Vegas, NV
“So that’s it, huh?”
Steve Wharton looked at his friend with a sad stare. He’d been a regular around the poker tables in Vegas, but he’d never seen a gambler like the man who only answered to the name “Mr. Akagi.” It seemed like every time they met in a tournament or cash game, they took each other to their limits, and often went back and forth with victories.
“‘Fraid so,” Akagi sighed, “the day job’s told us we gotta hit the road and travel the country. So it goes, I guess.”
Steve sighed back. He knew the charity Akagi had been playing for, Fighting for Nora, had wound down as the little girl it was named after had gone into remission, and Akagi had been around less and less, but all the same, seeing him play was a gift.
“So I guess I’ll be seeing ya on the socials,” Akagi smiled, “and maybe we’ll play again if I ever wind up back here. Or you happen to be somewhere I’m at with a poker room. Who knows?”
“Yeah, who knows,” Steve chuckled, “either way, I’m gonna miss you, Akagi.”
The mysterious gambler turned his head to his worthy adversary as he started walking out of the casino.
“My name is Henry. Henry Yamazaki. You watch wrestling?”
Steve didn’t, but he knew about PRIME setting up shop in the MGM Grand, and immediately put it all together.
“No, but… I guess I’ll have to now. Hey, Henry.”
“Good luck out there.”
“Thanks,” Henry Yamazaki replied, “you too. Goodness knows in our fields we need it.”
They shared one last chuckle together, as the Vegas evening went on around them.
Thanksgiving Day, 2022
“Saori, could you grab the mushrooms from the fridge for me please?”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Troy.”
Leanne Troy was busy working on her world-famous mushroom gravy for Thanksgiving dinner, and her daughter-in-law was already in the fridge looking for the Tofurky slices Leanne had bought a few days ago. Leanne’s oldest son and his wife were vegetarians, and Leanne took great care to make sure nobody ever felt left out on those increasingly rare occasions where the whole family gets together under her roof.
“Honey, please,” Leanne sighed, shaking her head, “you became part of this family when you and Davey married… how long ago? Two, three years?”
Saori nodded in the affirmative, while weakly responding “three.”
“You’re no longer a guest here, you’re as much a part of this home as any of my children. If you can’t call me mom, ‘Leanne’ will do just fine.”
Saori walked over with the mushrooms in one hand and the Tofurky in the other, looking into the warm, matriarchal, Irish eyes of her mother-in-law before awkwardly smiling and nodding.
“OK then… mom,” she finally let out, which got a smile from Leanne as she looked back at the oiled pan on the stove. It felt weird; she hadn’t called anyone “mom” since her own died when she was fifteen.
“Did you get enough mushrooms for both our recipes, mom?”
“I think I did, honey, I got a BIG ol’ pack that was big enough for the gravy AND your whatever-it-is for you and Davey,” Leanne responded, reaching for a bowl to put her portion of the mushrooms in to clean and prepare, “and speaking of Davey, where IS your husband anyway, he should be giving us a hand.”
Upstairs, Daniel Troy was putting the finishing touches on his “media chamber” he made in his bedroom every holiday; a tablet and a laptop running whatever TV shows he and his brother wanted to watch that day (for today, it was MST3K’s Turkey Day marathon and the Philly Thanksgiving Parade), a cathode ray TV on which to hook up the old gaming consoles they used to play as kids, and all the pillows and cushions they would need to be as comfy as possible.
“OK, OK, let’s see here…” Daniel muttered to himself as he typed some web address into the laptop and clicked a few links, until the screen came alive with the timeless visuals of a duo of robots and their human companion riffing on B-movies in real time.
“And done! Now let’s just see if the PS2 is working fine…”
“Take it easy, my dude,” Daniel’s older brother butted in; around the world of professional wrestling he was known as David Fox, a battle-tested veteran of the ring that has never lost his hunger for glory and gold. But on Thanksgiving Day, in the modest home in Blackwood, New Jersey where he grew up, he was just David Roger Troy Jr., or Davey, a man who cared deeply for his little brother and relished every moment he got to spend with him in adulthood.
“The games can wait, it’s not even 7 am yet. And I’m sure mom’s gonna want us to head downstairs soon and help with dinner.”
No sooner did he say that, than the man of the house, Dave Troy himself, passed by his sons’ bedroom with an inquisitive eyebrow.
“Now I know you boys aren’t letting the ladies do all of the work by their lonesome,” the elder Troy called out to his sons, “especially you, Davey, with whatever veggie thing Saori’s got in mind for you two.”
As their father made his way downstairs, the two Troy brothers looked at each other and sighed.
“I told you it could wait,” Davey said as Daniel shrugged.
“Yeah,” Daniel said, “you’re right. Well, guess it’s time to start smashing potatoes.”
“Oh, you always liked doing that part, man.”
They left Daniel’s room, and headed toward the living room with the parade on TV.
“At least we can see the floats while we work,” Daniel said as he paced ahead of his older brother.
May 4, 2014
RICOH Coliseum, Toronto, ON
Mushigihara finally had Troy Matthews where he wanted him. As the Last Man Standing match between them raged on, Mushi had laid quite a beating on his red-haired opponent, only being derailed slightly by various tricks Matthews used, traditionally reserved for rule-breaking villains, but in this case crucial for keeping Matthews from leaving Canada as a grease spot.
Less than a year ago Mushi and Matthews were part of a trio called The Philosopher Kings, having won the DEFIANCE World Trios Tag Team Championships. However, that reign was short-lived, and in the aftermath their mutual partner Eddie Dante had gotten it into Mushi’s head that Matthews was the weak link. After all, he’d been in DEFIANCE for some time before they came calling, and he’d been lagging a bit even then.
They would unceremoniously cut ties with Matthews not long after losing the belts, and take it upon themselves to finally eliminate him from the business by any means necessary.
They hadn’t counted on Matthews being clever enough to resort to tricks such as the classic spitting of mist into an opponent’s eyes.
Too bad Mushi wore a mask protecting his face from such hazards.
Too bad also that the mist wasn’t meant to blind, but to go up in flames, something Mushi would learn the hard way as Matthews’ girlfriend Saori Kazama blew fire onto it, causing it to burn enough that he had to eventually yank it off so his face wouldn’t also burn.
Too bad that only made Mushigihara very, VERY angry.
As he had Matthews on all fours on the mat, he got a hold of Dante’s trademark cane and raised it, ready to deal a crushing blow to his opponent; however, Dante called out to his man to look at the handle, where the beast found a small button to press. As he did, the cane seemed to split, the body of the device sliding off and onto the mat.
Where it once was, a shining steel blade stretched out.
As Mushigihara looked at the hidden sword, he grinned, and lay the blade against Matthews’ temple, ready to see what kind of damage it could do.
What if he didn’t settle for carving his face?
What if he went for the kill?
What if he finished this, once and for all?
(I don’t remember thinking this.)
Mushigihara smiled as he lay the blade farther down his opponent’s face.
Past the eyes.
(This didn’t happen.)
Past the jaw.
(This DEFINITELY didn’t happen.)
He laid the edge of the blade against Troy Matthews’ neck, the cold steel pressing up on the warm, pulsing carotid artery.
(NO. I DIDN’T DO THIS. STOP. THIS ISN’T HAPPENING.)
As Matthews’ panic-stricken eyes flickered and scattered, Mushigihara began dealing his final stro-
Henry Yamazaki shot up in a cold sweat, looking around him until he realized he was in his bed. He gripped the sides of his mattress, waiting for his senses and his understanding of gravity to return. He slowly rose out of bed, onto his feet, and in a fit of curiosity, he walked into the hall and looked into the master bedroom.
David was there, sleeping soundly next to Saori. Albert also laid in the bed, at their feet.
Henry returned to his room, sitting on his bed.
He would not sleep the rest of the night.
“So what’s up?” asked David Jr. He’d gotten out on the porch at his parents’ request after dinner, and he was still thinking about that amazing Tofurky Wellington Saori made for the two of them. His father was sitting at the glass patio table with a glass of sangria, while mom was leaning on the porch rail, looking out towards the creek beyond the yard.
“How long do you think you’re going to keep wrestling, Davey?” There was a sadness in Leanne’s voice, as David Sr. simply nodded as he sipped his sangria.
“Not sure… two, three years? Maybe five? Why?” Davey had just recently celebrated his forty-second birthday, and had talked in the past to his folks about a fifty-year-old coworker, while also pointing out he didn’t think he himself would be wrestling at that age.
“I’m sure your father told you about my health scare,” Leanne said, her gaze not departing from the creek.
“Yeah, but the results came back negative, right? No cancer?”
Leanne nodded, before turning to her son, “yes, but… it was a very… scary experience. And it got me and your father thinking about what’s going to happen when we go-“
“C’mon, mom, don’t talk like that,” Davey sharply cut in; no child ever wants to have that talk with their parents about death, even though they know that time will come just as it does for everyone, without exception.
“You know as well as we do that it’s gonna happen one day, Davey,” the elder David Troy said, rising to his feet and walking over to the rail with his wife with a hug, “one day we’re not gonna be here. And it’s just gonna be you, Meghan, and Daniel.”
In the living room, Daniel Troy was being a human jungle gym to a pair of energetic twin boys, laughing as his nephews climbed on him, while Dr. Meghan Troy and Saori Kazama helped with cleanup in the kitchen.
“Daniel is…” Leanne turned to her son and started making steps towards him, “you know how he struggles with things.”
Davey could only nod in understanding. Ever since Daniel was diagnosed with autism thirty years ago, he had seen the peaks and valleys of his little brother’s life, both as an observer and as a protector, and he could still remember all the time he spent in detention for his violent responses to the kids who would say all those awful things about Daniel.
“Remember when he tried to live out on his own, and had that breakdown, Davey?” his father solemnly asked. Davey did indeed remember that, and the hours he spent holding him and whispering in his ear how everything would be OK. The arguments with his parents about whether Daniel would be able to live his life like a human adult. And Davey ended up being right; Daniel was able to make a good living for himself as a web developer, even if his social skills would have made it difficult for him to do much living on his own.
“Yeah, I do,” Davey said as he leaned onto the rail himself, “but he’s doing well for himself, right? Making good money with his web work, and I know he’s been making bank with those election campaigns!”
“Yeah he is, and we’re proud of him, you know that, Davey,” the patriarch agreed, “but you know how he needs that routine, and he falls apart without that guidance and help. He spirals. Bad.”
A long silence. Davey knew what was coming next; Meghan was a single mother, and raising the two boys would be hard enough without another adult who needed care. And he knew his parents wouldn’t ask him if they didn’t think his answer would be “yes.”
“You want me to take him in, I presume?” David asked, moving his eyes between each of his parents.
Without saying a word, David and Leanne Troy made their answers clear.
Davey nodded, as his overclocked, overthinking head began to rearrange his priorities and his plans.
“So… you’re thinking of winding it down?”
Henry Yamazaki looked across the dining room table in that rented house in New Orleans, as David Fox took another sip from his highball.
“Yeah,” David said, wiping his mouth on his arm, “I’ve been doing this shit since I was 18. I’m 42 now. You do the math.”
An eerie silence filled the air as David looked off to the side, at the window and the setting December sun.
“I don’t think I have it in me to keep going into my fifties like Dusk. And besides, I have to think about my family.”
“Family? But I thought Saori was-“
“No, Henry,” David interrupted, his face clearly showing sensitivity to the subject of his wife’s condition, whatever that may be, “it’s Daniel.”
A pregnant pause fills the room. The monster known as Mushigihara nodded, before replying with a curt, “I see.”
David nodded and took another pull of his drink.
“Yeah. My folks are worried about what’ll happen with him when they go,” he said before pointing to himself, “no kids, no plans to have any, I’m as good a candidate as any to take care of him.”
“What does Saori think?”
David sighed, “she’s not too happy about it, obviously. She knows it’s gonna happen, because what other options are there? Doesn’t mean she’s happy about it.”
“How do you feel?”
David scoffed and downed the last bit of his drink, “honestly? Feels like my brain is going in a dozen directions at once. Now I’m thinking about, what am I going to do? How am I going to make of that time left in PRIME, if I even get to stick around?”
Mushi sighed and rose to his feet, lumbering into the kitchen and opening the fridge.
“…stick around? You really think Lindsay’s going to let one of us go, let alone both of us, David?”
“No, man,” David groaned, “and I’m trying to make sure it stays that way. I haven’t forgotten the times she stuck her neck out for us, but it’s different when she’s running the business. And it is still a business, Moosh. And I’m trying to figure out how I- we can make the most of it. Put our names in the landscape for good, and maybe cash in before cashing out, if you know what I mean.”
Mushi returned with two cans of Asahi Super Dry, handing one to his partner as he scrambled to correct himself.
“Before I cash out, obviously, not you. You still have a lot of years to give to the game.”
The Kaiju nodded and grunted in acknowledgment as he sat back down.
“And maybe that Kevin Curran jerkoff on his stupid fucking podcast can finally sleep at night knowing I’m on my way out.”
If tension were like gas, somebody would have slashed the lines and turned the dining room into a bomb ready to blow.
“You STILL let that damn podcast live in your head rent-free, David?!” Mushi groaned as he opened his can of beer.
Sometime in 2015 some podcast, Wrestling Guerillas or something like that, reviewed a DEFIANCE Wrestling pay-per-view both men were on, though not as a team. The host in question praised Mushigihara’s performance on the show, while feeling like Fox, then wrestling under the name Troy Matthews, was lacking since their team had split up. David didn’t mind that so much, because pleasing every fan in professional wrestling is a fool’s errand.
But when Kevin Curran said that the best story that David could probably tell at that point was his last, that sent him on a spiral.
“I guarantee you that asshole doesn’t even remember having a podcast, let alone talking about you on it!”
“He wanted me to go out like Jon, Mushi! He wanted someone to splatter me and send me out on a stretcher!”
A pregnant pause.
“And within a year, somebody did. Not like he envisioned it, probably, but because you let that shit eat at you, and you went and nearly got yourself killed.”
David was furious, but as much as he wanted to slap Mushigihara in the face, he couldn’t help but acknowledge the big man had a point.
“And you got back up,” Mushi continued, “cleaned yourself up. Went somewhere where you made a million dollars in one year. Won a world championship. Won it three times. I was there. I saw it happen. I know what kind of man you are, David. I know what kind of wrestler you are, as a partner and as an opponent.”
At this point, the Kaiju was letting loose, unable to stop himself. David sensed that, and simply nodded, allowing the big man his space.
“And right now I feel like the day’s going to come where I’m NOT at your retirement show watching you take your final bows and leave your boots in the ring, but instead I’m going to have to tell my tag team partner’s wife, my tag team partner’s parents, that he got himself killed because he couldn’t let go of the words of some pasty fuck who’d never even set foot in a goddamn ring!”
The creaking and stirring upstairs kept any real silence from coming, to let his words sink in. Looks like Saori woke up.
“You say you probably have two, three, five years, David,” Mushi continued still, “I don’t know when you’ll call it a day for real, or what you’ll do after it. But as your tag team partner, and more importantly as your friend, I feel like I have an obligation to make sure you get there alive and in one piece.”
“I know you have that stupid podcast saved somewhere, David. Whatcha say in 2023 you delete it and don’t let that jerk bother you anymore? We have a match to worry about at the end of THIS year.”
“You’re right,” David replied, as he fiddled through his phone and looked through his podcast app. Henry smirked to himself. David was so predictable.
“I may not know where we’ll be heading after Colossus, but I do know what we’re going to do at Colossus,” David continued, not flinching as he stared into his partner’s eyes, “you and I are going to wrestle in Madison Square FUCKING Garden. You and I are going to scramble those eGG Bandits. You and I are going to smash the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team into a singularity. You and I are going to get the winner’s share of the match purse, and end 2022 on a high note. And then?”
The silence that followed was almost deafening. Mushi gave a low, almost humming growl under his throat.
“Once we’ve taken a break and had our holidays, we’re going to come back to this base of ours, and we’re going to have some long, honest talks about our futures. I know you want to make up for lost time too, big man. So we’ll figure out a way to make both of our goals happen.”
The Kaiju nodded. There were plans to be made. But first, there was a big match to win, and a landscape in PRIME for the Dangerous Mix to finally engrave their names.
With that battlecry, the Dangerous Mix of David Fox and Henry “Mushigihara” Yamazaki raised their cans and toasted to the road ahead.
“The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is headed for extinction.”
“Maybe so, sir; but not today.”
- Top Gun: Maverick